History: General Pershing, WWI commander of US forces, called Belleau Wood the most important battle fought by US forces since the US Civil War. It is generally agreed that the Marine action there stopped the German Spring Offensive in 1918 and effectively saved Paris. The Belleau Wood operation fell to the 2nd and 3rd Divisions of the US Army but at that time half of the 2nd Division was made up of units of the US Marines. This was the 4th Marine Brigade, composed of the 5th and 6th Marine Regiments.
The battle lasted 20 days and 20 nights, with hourly shelling and machine gun fire. Initially the Marine advance to the wood was staggered on June 6 when German gunners cut them down by the dozens along with the wheat they walked through. On that one day –Marine casualties exceeded all the casualties sustained since their founding. Still, they persisted and once in the trees Marine marksmanship silenced the German guns. General Pershing also said “the deadliest weapon in the world is a Marine and his rifle.” By June 26th, the Marines had taken all of Belleau Wood, much of the fighting was eye to eye and hand to hand. One German later said of the Marines “they are animals. They kill everything!”
Legend has it that the Germans nicknamed the Marines “Teufel Hunden” (roughly translated as “Devil Dogs”). Actually, Marine publicists coined the name several months before the Battle of Belleau Wood took place.
The Marines succeeded but the cost was high. Out of the 9,777 US casualties, 1,811 were fatalities. The German casualty count is unknown because when the Battle for Belleau Wood ended, the German army began withdrawing its entire front. Since 1,600 German prisoners were captured, the German body count was probably as high as the Marines butcher bill, or higher. Belleau Wood proved to be the morale boost that the Allies needed and came as a shock to the German high command.
Belleau Wood established the U.S. Marine’s fighting reputation along with many military traditions still carried on today. The wooded region has been renamed, Bois de la Brigade de Marin. It has become a Marine pilgrimage site. The memorial there is the only European memorial dedicated to the US Marines and since that time the 5th and 6th Regiments still have the privilege of wearing the French Fourragère on their left shoulder in honor of Marine valor and sacrifice. From those woods too, rose the legendary Marine quote, “Retreat, Hell! We just got here!”
Game Basics: Fast-playing (1-4 hours) card-driven game for two players. The play map covers the historical French battlefield geography. The 300 counters and markers represent the historical units and incidents involved along with chits that determine initiative and order choice. These company sized units move using 180 meter hexes. The game is unique in that it captures the tension and high rate of casualties without ever casting a single die, relying more on planning and issuing orders as the active or reactive player. Each side will have a 30 card deck that is faction specific. The Devil Dogs of Belleau Wood has involved a great deal of research and play-testing, the result is an intense and satisfying game that keeps you on the edge of your seat.
The game uses company sized counters. Total unit and marker count is around 300 pieces. There will be no dice. Each side will be drawing from a deck of 30 faction specific cards. The game map is divided into four equal sectors.
Each turn players assign a card to each sector. An initiative chit will then be drawn for each sector. The results will be either German – making the German the initiative player, Marine – making the Marine the Initiative player or Stalemate meaning no action is taken in this sector that turn (no more than two stalemated sectors are possible per turn. The ratio of German to Marine to Stalemate chits is determined by morale. Morale will be determined by casualties.
Once Initiative is determined Players mark each sector’s card slot as to what they are doing. The initiative player chooses between an Active Order printed on the card or a General Order chosen from a list on the player’s aid. The Non-initiative player chooses between a reactive order that is on the card or a General Order chosen from a list on the player’s aid.
To emphasize the devastating effects of machine guns, MGs will affect units during two phases. There will be MG casualties caused with every card draw and again after unit movement. Artillery and Gas barrages are part of the general orders and they will abstracted as off-board batteries a target variation mechanic determined by directions printed on the cards. There will be a separate phase for trench mortars, pinning and unpinning. Rally will be determined by unit cohesion. Gas will remain one turn and more than likely drift. It will have the effect of being temporarily exclusionary terrain.